Jason Melehani, 25, of Durham, was appointed executive director of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. He will be the principal administrative assistant to the state chair, and oversee all the party's programs and fundraising activities.
“I'm proud to accept this responsibility, because I believe North Carolinians are ready for a new option, one that respects individual liberty and supports personal responsibility on all issue, all the time, and puts people before politics,” said Melehani.
“Young people across North Carolina are beginning to realize that they are paying a disproportionately high price for irresponsible governing of decades past,” he said. “This type of fiscal irresponsibility, coupled with the drastic erosion of our civil liberties since 2001, is driving people from all walks of life to the Libertarian Party by the thousands in North Carolina.”
Evidence of this is that Libertarian voter registration grew by more than 70 percent since the beginning of 2012, according to the State Board of Elections.
“We're delighted to have a person of Jason's ability and passion as executive director,” said state chair J.J. Summerell. “He's already proven what a great organizer and activist he is, serving as our county affiliate development director, and recruiting and training leadership teams in more than a dozen counties.”
Unlike the Democratic and Republican parties, Summerell noted Libertarians rely totally and completely on volunteers.
“We don't have the hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on extensive staffs and lavish offices,” he said. “Volunteer local activists are the heart and soul of the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement. Jason will be invaluable in harnessing and focusing their energy.”
Melehani was appointed by the 12-member executive committee, which is elected by the membership at the party's annual convention.
During the 2012 campaign, Melehani was the state co-director for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. He also served as the southern regional director for campus events for the Johnson campaign and helped to organize some of the most successful events during the campaign, including events at Duke University and the University of Texas at Austin.
Melehani said his focus will be developing a strategy to make substantial inroads in local elections by electing Libertarians to town and city councils across the state, ultimately paving the way for electoral victories in the state House.
“We already strongly focused on our seven candidates running for local office this year and have started recruiting and training our candidates for next year too,” he noted.
He said the party will support this effort by adopting similar management skills and technologies which helped propel the Democrats to victory in 2008 and 2012.
Raised in a small suburb east of Sacramento, Calif., Melehani is the youngest of three children. His father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and became a citizen shortly thereafter. His mother can trace her heritage back to the founding of this country. His father works as a bridge engineer and his mother works as a business analyst.
Melehani has a bachelor's degree in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics from the University of California at Los Angles. He's currently pursing a medical degree and doctorate in pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He first took an interested in politics when he observed the unjust repercussions of the War on Drugs at his high school.
“The administration of justice was biased. Although drug use was rampant on campus, like it is on many campuses across the country, only those students who struggled academically faced legal consequences,” he recalls. “The administration turned a blind eye to the students who excelled academically.
After watching several students who needed help get expelled from high school, Melehani took action to change the school district’s zero tolerance policy.
Melehani believes strongly in the rights of individuals to guide their own lives.
“Interference from the government hinders your freedom and has significant potential to violate your values. No group of people should force their values or beliefs on another through law,” he said. “The law should serve to protect individuals from such intervention.”
“The constant state of war and continual erosion of civil liberties that's gone on nearly all my life has also made me adamantly opposed to the endless and unnecessary conflicts which our politicians send our nation’s youth to fight,” he said.
Libertarians believe all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, as long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal rights of others to live in whatever manner they choose.